Horns to be quietened on Indian roads

The Centre plans to enforce an upper limit of around 50 decibels in a crackdown on loud vehicle horns, a sharp reduction on existing permissible levels, minister of road transport and highways Nitin Gadkari said.

The minister said that along with air pollution, noise pollution is a major irritant and poses a serious health hazard for citizens.

“We propose to amend the Central Motor Vehicle Rules to fix maximum permissible noise levels of horns on vehicle to around 50 decibels from over 70 decibels now. Also, certain tunes may also be suggested for adoption so that the sound of a horn becomes soothing to the ear and the audio quality just serves the purpose of providing sufficient warning of the approach or position of the vehicle and not an irritant to ears,” Gadkari told Mint.

Current regulations mandate a maximum of 80-91 decibels for two wheelers, three wheelers, cars and commercial vehicles — well over the 53 decibel day-time and 45 decibel night-time safe limit stipulated by the World Health Organization.

In fact, according to the Indian Medical Association, experiencing noise of more than 80 decibels for 6 to 8 hours five days a week can cause deafness and lead to mental disorder.

The plan on specifying reduced noise levels of horns will be drawn up after studying a report from the National Environment Engineering Research Institute (NEERI). Gadkari’s ministry has asked NEERI to finalise the maximum decibel levels for different types of vehicles and also give a list of tunes.

Horns to be quietened on Indian roads

Trucks and buses in particular are known to sound loud horns mimicking film songs.

Some horns on Indian roads generate noise levels of over 100 decibels. The ambient sounds levels in all major metro cities are close to 80-100 decibels.

“The changes in rules for horns will make it mandatory for vehicle manufacturers to comply with specifications and make the necessary changes in vehicle design. All existing vehicles would also be shifted to new noise norms for horns in a phased manner,” a person aware of the development said.

With regard to regulations on tunes, Gadkari said that he wanted that horns should use Indian classical and instrumental tunes which would not only be less noisy but would also be soothing to ear. It would not be mandatory to adopt these tunes in horns but they would serve as reference for adoption by vehicle makers.

Over the last few years, the Indian automobile sector has seen a wide range of reforms aimed at making roads and vehicles safer. For instance, regulations have been introduced for mandatory use of six air bags for certain vehicles, incorporation of high-speed alerts, mandatory rear seat belts, AC cabins in large trucks and heavy vehicles and use of ABS braking systems.

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